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International Day for the Girl Child is a Reminder of the Struggle for Equality

This International Day of the Girl Child I take time to reflect on the turbulent journeys of the girls from the marginalized communities, especially from the informal settlements where I was brought up and raised, Korogocho.

I think about the glaring poverty that reminded us of the inequality and discriminated us from our peers in different environmental set ups. That affording three meals a day was a privilege and not a right. That living in a stone house with water and toilet was a preserve of the rich as our identity was coined around mud-thatched self-confused houses, flying toilets, open sewers and illegal power connections. Think of that mix in rainy seasons. I will not mention the rusted, leaking roofs which undignified our existence when it rained. To think that the landlords had the audacity to pluck a roof or double padlock our doors when rent delayed still makes me sad. Nothing is grosser than being hungry, vulnerable and homeless. Such are moments I cursed being a girl.

Do you want me to talk about puberty and menstrual hygiene? No, I won't. May be there is a lot of healing I need in order to forgive myself, my family and the environment I grew up in. I will not tell you the number of times I contemplated being a boy; the burden of gender was favourable to the boy child in the same set up. To think that we are still advocating for the provision of free sanitary pads for girls make me mad! It is the least the governments could do to reduce inequalities.

I think about education where schools provided a safe space from pedophiles and learning was only but a step towards success and not a key to success as the school motto stated. That staying in class without being sent home for school fees was an indicator of family wealth. That as an African girl, my school attendance was dictated by the academic status of my brothers. I would, without consultation be forced to repeat a class to pave way for my brothers in the precept that a girl child is an out-grower, nurtured to be married off.

Today, I think of the thorns and bruises that girls have to endure to live a dignified life, leave alone rising up the leadership positions. To change this norm, I am propelled to create more spaces for girls to excel and thrive. For me, this is intentional and very personal. It is from this basis that Angaza Mashinani was birthed. Reach out to me via to make my dream a reality.

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